Dreams come true at Buddy Walk
26 October 2005
For Sharon Raphael-McGregor, winning a family trip to the Gold Coast at the recent Down Syndrome Buddy Walk was beyond her wildest dreams.
The Waiuku mother of three has never travelled overseas and was shocked when her name was drawn for the grand prize. “It’s so exciting – I won’t be able to sleep now!”
As part of their holiday package, she and her family will fly to the Gold Coast with Freedom Air, stay at the Bay of Palms Resort, and visit Movie World and Sea World.
Ms Raphael-McGregor and her husband Todd have three children, including four-year-old Renee Marie who has Down syndrome.
The family won the trip after registering for the Auckland Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk on Sunday October 9.
Whether people were simply after a walk in the park, or the chance to meet famous people and soak up the carnival atmosphere, the inaugural Buddy Walk had it all.
Over 400 people braved the drizzle at Mt Eden’s Tahaki Reserve to rub shoulders with the ZM Black Thunders, Shortland St stars, teen rocker Michael Murphy, ‘That Guy’ from Sportscafe, and even Spongebob Squarepants.
The event raised $4,000 for the Auckland Down Syndrome Association. Brett Fairweather, former world aerobics champion, led an energetic warm-up before the walk was officially opened and people spilled through the start line.
Walkers were entertained by activities along the way and children relished the opportunity to pelt a sporting Michael Murphy with water bombs.
After finishing the walk, participants were handed a goodie bag and directed to the stage where the mixed abilities dance troupe Touch Compass stole the show with creative routines and a dancing three-legged dog.
Fairies and bouncy castles aside, the day was capped off with a major prize draw that included the Raphael-McGregor family’s Gold Coast holiday, and tickets to NZ Idol for 18-year-old Gabe Ashby.
After a successful day, organisers have now started planning for next year’s Buddy Walk. “It’s about celebrating people with Down syndrome and accepting them as part of our society,” says Christel van Baalen, Buddy Walk organiser.